Life is a serious business. Just take a look around at the people frowning, walking around heads down, shoulders hunched with worry. And with just cause when you see the news; as we witness so easily the horrific things happening around the world brought directly to our homes by the power of cable, satellite and internet not to mention radio and print.. Is it any wonder we have people all to ready to commit suicide, to turn to drugs or other means of easing the pain. The world is in a mess.
Now, if you are expecting me to have a magic wand to share with you that will change that I am afraid I will have to disappoint you. Nothing I can say or do is going to make all the problems – the terror, the hunger, the pain, the emptiness, the heartache and loneliness, the poverty – vanish. But I do have some good news. Something that gives me a reason to carry on.
Just take another look at the verse above, in context Israel was in dire straits, not for the first or last time but that’s another topic. God is showing them the way out, the way to please Him, to walk with Him. He says mortals, and that includes me and you, have been shown what is good and what He requires of us. Three simple things to be exact, three things that can be summed up in the great commandments Jesus gave. To love first God and then our neighbour.
To act justly. Doesn’t our whole world cry out for justice? Not the biased justice we sometimes see in action, influenced by wealth or power or even colour or religion but true justice that values each of us equally. To consider how I would like to be treated and do the same to my neighbour. That seems like justice to me: to look at what I have and make sure I am not greedily acquiring things while my brothers and sisters starve or go naked or, more close to home, can’t pay their electricity bill or buy shoes for their children. To consider that just maybe I have too much and should consider making a sacrifice so that others can just have enough.
To love mercy. I need mercy, every day I need it. Not just from God but from my husband, my daughters, my family, the neighbours, drivers when I go too slow, supermarket assistants when I talk too fast or make corny jokes. I need it from everyone I meet and by mercy I mean I need to be shown patience, kindness, love, a smile, a cheerful word. But if I need that then maybe they need to see it from me in turn. No sharp words when the coffee grounds get spilt, no sarcastic comment when the driver in front fails to indicate, a silent prayer for the woman behind me in the supermarket queue, a thank you to the grocery packer etc etc etc. You might think these are small insignificant things, but I promise you when I get that unexpected smile or hug or comment or thanks it completely changes my day.
To walk humbly with your God. How can I not walk humbly beside the creator of all things? The omnipotent, omnipresent God? But the humility comes when I recognise that He IS omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and that He cares for me and so I let Him ‘take the wheel’ and I stop worrying. When I stop looking at the bad situations, the hopelessness, the wickedness with that self-righteous sigh of despair and start looking at those things with His eyes. When I see He is able and willing to make a difference and my acting justly and loving mercy are factored into that. That when I love Him with all my heart and soul and strength, when I submit my self, my actions, my life to Him and try to love others as He does then I do know what is good and hopefully others can see that good in me.
But he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do,
what God is looking for in men and women.
It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbour,
be compassionate and loyal in your love,
And don’t take yourself too seriously—
take God seriously.